Good Friday Reflection

Today I preach.
I will say something like this:

When I first looked at the readings for Good Friday I was overwhelmed.
There are a lot of complications.
The readings are complex and thick.
Even one line could lead to a 1,000 interpretations.
(and has...)

So  I decided to embrace the complexity and start looking through that lens.
And I was amazed at the number of people in this gospel.
Just those with names: Jesus, Judas, Annas, Ciaphas, Pilate (maybe more)
then there are the guards, the crowd, the jewish community, the other temple priests.

And I looked at how no single person, in all of these people crucified Jesus.
What they all did though was this...the forgot (or denied the fact)-
that Jesus, in his humanity, in this human, is an experience of who God is.

Each of these people denied the truth of the incarnation- that God takes on the fullness of human life.
And because they denied this- they denied that humanness is beloved and revealing of God,
They could more easily wash their hands, send him along, and condemn Jesus.

Each of us, in our own complexity and life are also navagating the reality of
denying the human richness of other people
and having our beloved humaness denied.

We are the crucifiers in this story.
But was are also...the Christ in the story.

In one of my early ministry jobs I had a collegue named Fr. Larry.
Fr Larry was very very conservative.
But he wasn't just conservative he was hateful toward non-Christians.
His homilies sometimes reflected this.
He taught some courses at a local college and some of his classroom stuff reflected this.
He was also awkward.
He was uncomfortable with women in leadership.
And in general, he was a pretty fearful man.

Pretty early on, I knew I didn't like him.
And pretty early on, I surrounded myself with other people who didn't like him.
I hardly ever spoke with him, unless I had to.
I avoided him.
I knew he was fearful and awkward- but I never tried to lessen these realities for him.

I never tried to be curious about who he was.
What his life was like?
Where he came from?
Who and what he loved.

I never once shared my own truth with him.
I never offered him a piece of my story of love and connection.

I washed my hands of him.
I labeled him.
I decided that he wasn't part of the incarnation.
That he, in his humanity wasn't revealing of any part of God.

I believe now that in my own, complex and minor way I crucified him.
I denied him his humanity!
I moved away from his wisdom, his understanding, his way of loving.
I am one more person who refused to know him.

This is one of the things that I bring to the cross today.
I bring my sorrow for Father Larry.
For all the relationships and people that I have denied.
For all the times I have said to a person and to God, that this person's humanity is not revealing of God in the way I want.
So I reject them.
Today I say to God, "I will not continue this rejection."

We are all crucifiers.

We are also all crucified.
When I had my first child, I had an aweful experience.
Yeah, Yeah, the labor was bad and long,
But it was the heathcare that I recieved that left me broken.

Though I got all the care I needed to get my body better,
Through the process I was labeled,
My requests for dignity were ignored,
My attempts at being honest were rejected.
I was labeled, pushed away, and broken.

I left the hospital less able to love my new daughter, my partner and myself than I had ever been.
And for months after having a baby, I would share with people my story and they would say,
At least you have a healthy baby.

In fact, I almost didn't want to share that the story here because I couldn't imagine people not saying to me afterwards, at least you have a healthy baby.  Yup. THat is true. I have a healthy baby. It coudl be worse. But saying that just makes me feel bad about feeling bad.

So after years of this pain I went to therapy.
And after laying it all out to a therapist
she said to me, that sounds like the crucifixion.
I lost it.

When I started labeling that loss, that brokeness, that experience of my humanness and dignity denied as part of the cross I started to know something different about God.

I knew, and I know now, because of that,
That we kiss the cross today, because God's death, Jesus' suffering is about intimacy.
It is God saying , I come into this world into human form - and I suffer too.
Because suffering is part of what it is to be human.

I knew that God knew my loss and in my brokeness.
I knew that God was not going to say, "but I gave you a healthy baby."
But could sit with me, in my suffering, in that intimate place of vulnerability and brokeness and say.
I hear you. In all of it, and I'm sorry."

So today, we bring those times when we have failed to sit with others.
To be curious, or converted, or compassionate.
And we bring also, a knowing that Jesus, in this suffering, knows everything there is to know about suffering, about being denied our humanity.


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